THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
February 4, 2014
Guests: Loretta Weinberg, Jonathan Chait, Bill Nye
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Bill Nye the Science Guy will join me
tonight for a victory lap after his brilliant performance just a few
minutes ago in a debate on Evolution versus Creationism.
But first, what did he know and when did he know it? Chris Christie is not
so sure anymore about what he knew and exactly when he knew it.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Did I authorize it? Did I know about
it? Did I approve it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Traffic report.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Radio rule.
CHRISTIE: And the answer is still the same. It`s unequivocally no.
JON STEWART, DAILY SHOW: The unequivocal statement.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor Christie asserts again --
STEWART: That he knew nothing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That he didn`t know anything about the bridge closure.
CHRISTIE: When did I first know about the lane closures?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lane closures that caused gridlock near the George
CHRISTIE: I read it. I read in "The Wall Street Journal".
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Christie said on a local radio show --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Answering questions on camera, because yes, they do,
obviously, as you saw there, put a camera in there.
CHRISTIE: I`m curious about what happened here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let`s walk through what we know now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: More questions about the ongoing investigations.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s facing new accusations from a former ally.
STEWART: Who`s this Wildstein guy?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The lawyer for David Wildstein writes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Quote, "Evidence exist tying Mr. Christie to having
knowledge of a lane closure."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But a key plea player in the scandal is pleading the
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kelly, the third Chris Christie official to plead the
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Former Christie deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly.
CHRISTIE: I terminated her employment because she lied to me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The question becomes why did his staff feel like they
had to lie to him?
CHRISTIE: It is heartbreaking to me that I wasn`t told the truth.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The people of Fort Lee, the people of New Jersey, they
want to know the facts.
O`DONNELL: Responses to subpoenas are slowly coming into the special
committee of the New Jersey legislature investigating the Christie
administration`s order to close access lanes to the George Washington
Bridge last year. Bill Baroni, the former Port Authority deputy executive
director and three other Port Authority officials have complied with
subpoena requests for documents.
And after a weekend when Chris Christie`s story came under intense pressure
from the claim by David Wildstein`s lawyer that he had evidence that would
contradict some of what Christie has said, the governor adjusted his story
last night to more closely conform to Wildstein`s claims. This is the way
Governor Christie used to talk about when he first learned about the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIE: I knew nothing about this until it started to be reported in the
papers about the closure. But even then, I was told this was a traffic
study. Senator Baroni testified it was a traffic study.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: But on Friday, David Wildstein`s lawyer revealed, quote, "It
has also come to light that a person within the Christie administration
communicated the Christie administration`s order that certain lanes of the
George Washington Bridge were to be closed and evidence exists as well
tying Mr. Christie to having knowledge of lane closures.
Team Christie decided to attack the messenger, including actually attacking
David Wildstein`s performance as a high school student. And David
Wildstein`s past, people and newspaper accounts have described him as
tumultuous. He was publicly accused by his high school social studies
teacher of deceptive behavior.
That attack on Wildstein, that juvenile, high school attack on Wildstein is
clearly the most desperate moment yet in team Christie`s attempt to save
Chris Christie`s political career and presidential ambition. After the
weekend of desperate lashing out at David Wildstein, last night, Chris
Christie said this --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIE: If prior to that -- I know prior to that there were press
accounts about traffic issues up there. And if someone, you know, if I
read that or someone said something to me about traffic issues up there, it
wouldn`t have been meaningful to me because I didn`t know there was any
problem up there. I didn`t know we had actually closed lanes up there
When this first became an issue for me, because let`s face it, Eric,
there`s traffic every day at the George Washington Bridge, at the Lincoln
Tunnel, at the Holland Tunnel. I hear those reports on the radio. We all
hear about them. That`s not something that rises to the gubernatorial
When this first became clear to me that this was a potential issue was when
the Foye e-mail was put out. Now, like I said, there were press accounts
before. Whether I read any of those -- if I did or heard anything from
anybody about traffic, it would not have been meaningful to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now is MSNBC contributor Joy Reid and New Jersey
State Senate Leader Loretta Weinberg who is co-chair of the special
Senator, Chris Christie is now saying that the only thing that matters is
his statement that he did not know anything about the lane closures before
they happened. And he doesn`t want anyone to question of exactly when did
he first hear about the lane closures, because the only thing that matters
is that he didn`t know about it beforehand, had nothing to do with it
Is he right? Is that the only thing that matters? And is that the only
thing of interest to you on the committee about Chris Christie`s awareness
of this issue?
STATE SEN. LORETTA WEINBERG (D), NEW JERSEY: No. There`s a lot of things
that are of interest to me and hopefully to the entire committee. And,
first of all, let me tell you what I know. I made my original inquiry
about this whole issue after I read it in the newspaper and heard from
constituents that I represent.
And that was way back on September 19, about five or six days after the
lane closures were reversed. And I sent a letter to a Port Authority
Commissioner Pat Schubert and I copied the governor and David Samson on
I believe I expressed in that letter that this was a little bit more than a
traffic jam, and that I was at a loss for words as to how to explain what
took place here with no notification to local officials, et cetera. So I`m
assuming that when the governor`s office gets a copy of a letter on state
Senate stationary, signed by the majority leader of the state senate,
somebody might have called it to his attention.
But, OK, I`ll accept maybe he didn`t see it. Maybe nobody did bring it to
So, let`s fast forward to October 1st, when the executive director of the
Port Authority Patrick Foye had reversed the lane closures, and an e-mail
he wrote was leaked to the press in which he stated that this was done
against every kind of ruling regulation in the Port Authority. He had
reversed it. It put people in jeopardy and compromised safety and, in
fact, he said in that e-mail, laws might have been broken, both federal and
Well, let`s say that the governor only got conscious recognition of what
went on there on October 1. Two months later at the beginning of December,
he was having a press conference. That was the press conference where he
kind of made fun -- oh, sure, I was out there rearranging the cones and he
kind of made fun of it.
And he said something about, I am truly sauced, I remember because it was
such a peculiar choice of words. I am truly sauced at the fact that Fort
Lee has somehow private access roads to the George Washington Bridge.
That`s more than two months after Patrick Foye`s e-mail was released.
I had told the Port Authority on a couple of different occasions, there are
no private roads from Fort Lee over the George Washington Bridge. They
If, in fact, the governor really thought there was a traffic study, which
to this day has not been produced, two months later when he read about
Patrick Foye`s e-mail, which said that laws might have been broken, do you
think he might have said let me see the traffic study? Or gee, Patrick
Foye, or Bill Baroni or David Wildstein, could you come to my office and
tell me what went on here? I understand according to this e-mail that
thousands of people might have been put into jeopardy.
So, there`s something wrong with this whole time line. I appeared before
four months of Port Authority meetings. And I`ll tell you what else is
wrong, and that I hope we can in this committee get to the bottom of, where
were those Port Authority commissioners?
I appeared before them in October, in November, in December. I stood up
and spoke at each of those meetings. I told them if they were under any
impression that there were private roads there, that`s completely
I`ve never heard -- to this day, I have not heard one of their voices.
These are people who are charged with overseeing the expenditure of
literally billions of dollars in this region. Not one voice to say you
know what, senator, we should get to the bottom of this. You know what, I
am going to call in the people involved.
Absolutely nothing right up until if you had, which is, what, February 4th?
We`re five months into this issue. Not one Port Authority commissioner has
spoken publicly about anything.
O`DONNELL: You know, the governor said something extraordinary last night.
I will play what he said last night about the traffic study. And it would
have been -- it would have been one thing to hear him say this kind of
thing a few months ago. It is astounding to hear him say this just last
night where he`s saying I still don`t know if there was a traffic study.
Let`s listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIE: I still don`t know whether there was a traffic study that
morphed into --
RADIO HOST: You still don`t know at this point whether there was a traffic
CHRISTIE: Well, what I`m say, Eric, is did this start as a traffic study
that then morphed into some political shenanigans? Or did it start as
political shenanigans that became a traffic study?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joy Reid, he`s the governor of the state. If there`s a traffic
study, wouldn`t it be on his desk? Wouldn`t it be all two pages of it or
25 pages of it? Wouldn`t it be right there in his hands?
JOY REID, THE GRIO: Well, the best part of that quote, "political
shenanigans that morph into a traffic study." That doesn`t even make
sense. That`s exactly right.
Especially as the state senator laid out. You`re saying you know what, it
could have been a traffic study. You mean to tell me that a traffic jam in
September produces questions at a press conference in December, that
doesn`t pique your interest? You think it`s a traffic study, you don`t ask
for the traffic study?
Four days after Governor Chris Christie jokes about those lane closures and
says he was moving the cones, four days from then, David Wildstein, his
appointee in that special position, resigns. You don`t ask him why did you
resign in if he says traffic study, you don`t say show me the traffic
Seven days after David Wildstein resign, Bill Baroni resigns. Another one
of your appointees. Two people who were directly connected to I guess at
that point still saying you thought it was a traffic study, you still don`t
ask for the traffic study?
At this point, I know there`s no traffic study and I`m not the governor of
New Jersey. So, I don`t understand how Chris Christie`s defense is to
still pretend like there`s a possibility that a nonexistent traffic study
exists. We`re way past traffic study.
The governor has got to start explaining how it is that he was either
completely out to lunch on the issues taking place for his own citizens and
allowing his staff to just do whatever and morph traffic studies into
political shenanigans and vice versa. What was he doing during all this
So, he`s either not completely really in charge, which means his
presidential ambitions don`t make sense. Or he knew about it before and is
now trying to back fill and cover that up. Either way, it`s a huge
O`DONNELL: New Jersey State Senator Loretta Weinberg and MSNBC`s Joy Reid,
thank you very much for joining me tonight.
REID: Thank you.
WEINBERG: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, Chris Christie`s former enemies are now inviting him
to their big event. And some of these former supporters are losing
And Bill Nye the Science Guy will join me for a triumphant celebration of
his victory tonight in a debate on Evolution and Creationism. I watched
that debate. It was absolutely extraordinary. Bill was amazing.
And in "The Rewrite", it`s been a good week for bad socialism. First, the
sports socialism extravaganza of the Super Bowl. And today, an
overwhelming majority in the Senate voted for more agriculture socialism.
Also, the Affordable Care Act took a beating today in the news media
because a lot of people couldn`t understand the big words in the CBO
report. But Ezra Klein understands them and he`ll be here to explain what
almost everyone got so wrong today.
O`DONNELL: Former First Lady Laura Bush is theorizing about what might
happen if some day we have a first gentleman instead of a first lady?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY: I don`t think we can get around it, maybe
when we finally have a first gentleman. And maybe we should be that way
about the first gentleman also and really critique the way they look all
the time, their choice of tie, or their hair style or whatever.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s your advice --
BUSH: Or maybe their weight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Up next, more on the Chris Christie investigation and then Bill
Nye the Science Guy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The establishment in the last 48 hours, when you ask
them about the Christie situation, the two-word answer, Jeb Bush. I`m
serious. I`m really struck by how much Christie was the kind of
establishment donor class favorite I think for the Republican presidential
nomination in 2016. They`re beginning to maybe foolishly. But they are
beginning to write him off.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And Chris Christie is having real problems in Iowa.
Today in Iowa, "The Des Moines Register" ran an article titled to Iowa
recruiters sour on Christie. I don`t think anything that`s come out of
bridgegate so far has changed my opinion of him said -- one iota, said Cam
Sutton, a retired insurance executive who was one of a handful of rich
Iowans who flew to New Jersey on a private jet in June 2011 to recruit
Christie to run for president then. Their trip was widely interpreted by
national political watchers as GOP discontent in the first in the nation
voting state with Mitt Romney and, of course, the rest of the presidential
contenders at that time.
But Sutton told the Des Moines register, knowing now what has transpired?
I probably wouldn`t make the trip today. I think I`m disappointed in some
of the things he`s come out as. He`s not really a conservative. Just last
night, Governor Chris Christie was still trying to sell the idea that he is
the Republican who can pass his agenda in a Democratic state, even while
Democrats are investigating his administration over the George Washington
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RADIO HOST: You are still in the midst of at the very least a big
RADIO HOST: At the very most, something that may be more serious. Are you
able to have the kind of dialogue that you need to have with the Senate
president? With the assembly speaker?
CHRISTIE: Yes. We had it today. We had it today. We met for an hour and
a half today. And they and I understand that our job is to run the state
of New Jersey.
In the midst of all this, Eric, we had a state of the state address, we had
the inaugural, we rolled out the next $1.4 billion proposal on sandy aid.
All the stuff we`re going to be talking about this week. And we`re going
to just do our job.
And I met with the leadership of the legislature today to lay out an agenda
that I have and to listen to an agenda that they have. That`s what we
would normally do at this time of the year anyway under any other
So, no, no one is going to stop me from doing my job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Jonathan Chait of "New York Magazine".
Jonathan, I think there`s many signs that the Christie kingdom is
crumbling, chief among them that absolutely insane thing that they sent out
over the weekend about David Wildstein, about how he was in trouble in one
class in high school. What that says most importantly is, Christie has
really bad people on his team working for him. He should have been
protected from a document like that ever going out. It never should have
JONATHAN CHAIT, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: It is a bit of a panic move, isn`t it?
His story isn`t straight. He`s changing details. He`s changing emphasis.
He`s changing dates.
So, just keeping this thing together seems like a real challenge for him.
O`DONNELL: As soon as David Wildstein`s lawyer comes out with the thing on
Friday that seems to say -- it was very carefully worded, but he seems to
be saying, at least, that Christie knew about this lane closure situation
closing while it was going on. Christie then goes on the radio last night
and creates this big vague fog of exactly when he knew about this. And
that used to be really definite. He knew about it only when it landed in
"The Wall Street Journal."
CHAIT: That`s right. And how could he not have known about it, right? He
met with Wildstein during the closures. They were photographed together.
Now, if you`re Wildstein, you ordered this, you`re with the boss, you
almost certainly know --
O`DONNELL: You`re very proud of yourself.
CHAIT: Right. Either one to say, hey, listen to this great thing I did on
your behalf or you already know that he told you to do it. You`re not
going to sit there having been ordered by somebody else, not sure if the
boss is OK with this gigantic -- well, I don`t want to use the bad word,
but operation, to -- you know, to do bad things to your political enemies.
O`DONNELL: Guys like Wildstein in politics, whenever they have the moment
with the big boss, they always take credit for what they`ve done. They
need that to keep their political --
CHAIT: He`s OK with it.
O`DONNELL: What I`m watching now is just how badly team Christie is
handling this situation. And that press release, that -- well, it wasn`t a
press release, a message to their supporters, here are our talking points,
here`s the way to fight this.
There wasn`t a single thing on their plan to fight this that was smart,
that made sense. You know, where you go OK, this is actually going to
help. Not one thing. So, Christie has a staff that at this moment cannot
produce one helpful idea. That means he can`t possibly be going anywhere
CHAIT: And I don`t see how he comes out of this well. What`s the best
I think the best case scenario we can think of is there`s no smoking gun.
But even in the absence of a smoking gun, you`re talking about a long,
drawn out process of hearings and he`ll never be able to prove that he
didn`t do it. At best for him, it will just be ambiguous.
O`DONNELL: And the suspicion of what he did is actually the Tea Party`s
worst nightmare. This guy in the "Des Moines Register", a supporter of
his, saying that he thinks it was an abuse of power, whether Christie knew
about it or not. He says it`s hard for him to believe that Christie didn`t
know about all that.
And that he disapproves of the actual conduct. He doesn`t care whether
Christie is going to be able to pave over this in some way in a public
relations way. He is off of Christie because of what he knows already.
CHAIT: You know, one of the ironies here is that this is kind of machine
style abusive, slightly corrupt government. Now, I think in and a lot of
people think that you could be this kind of machine style politician and
still be OK, still bring home the bacon and have a decent life for most
people you represent, even if you`re greasing the skids here and there and
doing things a little bit the wrong way.
I think that`s actually the best defense of how he`s governed in New
Jersey. That he has been bipartisan here and there. And maybe he`s a
little corrupt, he`s a little bit dirty, but overall, he hasn`t been too
bad. But the people that aren`t going to go for that argument are the Tea
Partier, the Iowa Republicans and the conservatives in the party.
O`DONNELL: Right. And his defense is look, these people I appointed were
absolutely horrible. And now, I want --
CHAIT: And have been their whole lives.
O`DONNELL: But now let me appoint them as attorney general and IRS
commissioner? Thank you very much for joining me tonight.
Coming up, the debate over Evolution and Creationism. The debate between
Bill Nye the Science Guy and the guy who founded the Creation Museum.
Guess who won?
The winner, Bill Nye, joins me next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL NYE THE SCIENCE GUY: Mr. Hamm and his followers have this remarkable
review of a worldwide flood that somehow influenced everything that we
observe in nature, a 500-foot wooden boat, eight zookeepers for 14,000
individual animals, every land plant in the world under water for a full
year. I ask us all, is that really reasonable?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now, the reasonable Bill Nye the Science Guy.
Bill, I watched the debate. I was riveted. You were fantastic. I got to
tell you, I asked people on Twitter what they want me to ask you and one of
the most common questions I got was, ask Bill how he was able to maintain
his composure and poise under that kind of -- well, ignorance, I guess, is
what most people on Twitter were calling it.
NYE: Well, what did I tell you Lawrence, thank you, first of al all. I
take this business very seriously. I say this all the time. If we raise a
generation of students who does not know and appreciate the process of
science, let alone the facts of science, we`re headed for trouble.
And I say this first of all as a citizen of the world and as a citizen of
the United States. We want the United States to continue to innovate,
continue to have new ideas, produce new products that people want, for the
betterment really of all human kind.
So, I have respect, of course, for Mr. Hamm and his strongly held beliefs,
but it`s a serious business, and I mention this especially to your audience
who are voters and taxpayers. And thank you again for your kind words.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Well, you handled the entire evening
with seriousness and grace and a gentle whip. There was nothing taunting
in the way you did it. It was just a wonderful thing to watch. I mean,
one of the things I said on twitter was that Bill is teaching us here more
than just science. He is teaching us how to have civil and decent
disagreements and talk them out.
And I want to show the audience who didn`t get a chance to see it just what
you were up against. Here is creationist Ken Hamm and what he believes
about dating methods.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEN HAM, CREATIONIST: You know what? There`s hundreds of dating methods
out there, hundreds of them. Actually 90 percent of them contradict
billions of years. And the point is, all such dating methods are fallible.
And I claim there`s only one infallible dating method. It`s a witness who
was there who knows everything who told us and that`s from the word of God.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Bill, it was -- there you were, in the debate about science.
And it kept coming back on the other side to the word of God as written in
the old testament.
NYE: It was -- it would not always. Sometimes the new testament came in.
O`DONNELL: Well, yes.
NYE: I`m serious which would be out. I just want to remind everybody if
you`re interested, the topic under debate was does Ken Hamm`s creation
model work? Is it viable. That was the adjective that he chose. And I
argued, I think, strongly, that it`s not. That it`s not subject to
And the big problem I have, if I may, intellectually or spiritually, is
that it has no ability to predict anything. His view of nature does not
allow him to make predictions about the future, which is really the essence
of the scientific method, where you have -- you observe something, you
design -- you have a hypothesis about why it takes place, you design an
experiment to test it and then you compare the results to what happened.
And he doesn`t have that in any of his assertions.
And in my view, and I`ll let the viewers -- your viewers decide if that`s
true. By the way, everybody just, if I may, you can watch it for free on
my Web site. Your viewers can decide if he ever got around to answering
that, to saying that he does have something that he can predict and he
could show the future. And there were some specific things that he just
didn`t -- he didn`t choose to address.
O`DONNELL: Bill, I thought, you know, for someone -- I`m not really
scientifically literate at all, as I think you know. And I thought his
first 30 minutes, you were each given 30 minutes. His first 30 minutes, I
thought he made a lot of what sounded like really good points. I could see
how people could be drawn into that kind of thinking. But it was one of
those situations where, OK, then the other guys gets up and in two minutes
you forget everything that you just heard in the previous 30 minutes,
because you found just the clearest and quickest ways to get in there and
dismantle everything that we had just heard. And the way you kind of
gracefully kept keeping it back to simple scientific propositions. And
always addressing it to the importance of what all this really does mean
for how we teach science in schools. That seems to be what is most at
stake for you in this.
NYE: Absolutely. Lawrence, you were watching and listening. Thank you.
O`DONNELL: It was great.
NYE: Let me point out that you probably know more science than you
realize. And the things I drew attention to, the fossil record, relatively
straightforward calculations about how long things would have had to exist,
how many species would have come into being, and the extraordinary nature
of this ship that was supposed to be built by inexperienced people better
than any ship that was ever built. These are the results of diligent
investigations. I mean, you can save them once the conclusions are drawn
and the evidence is gathered, you can see them in a few sentences or
paragraphs, but they`re really tribute to our ancestors who have been so
diligent to discover aspects of nature, naturals laws and where you and I
fit in. And it`s so important for me as a guy who grew up in the United
States that we have a future of innovation, of scientists and engineers
that can help, dare I say it, change the world.
And if I may, I want to thank my friends at the national center for science
education, the planetary society, the union of concerned scientist, my
academic colleagues who helped me prepare this material.
O`DONNELL: You had help. OK, well, that explains it. Because during the
debate, I tweeted, does Bill Nye know everything? Because it sure sounds
like you do.
NYE: Well, these are classic questions. And I emphasize again, what we
are dealing with here is not graduate level, get your Ph.D. science. This
is largely elementary school science. These are not extraordinary claims -
- I mean, rather, these are not extraordinary propositions. These are
things that I want every elementary school graduate in the United States,
and indeed in the world to be familiar with, to understand. So that he and
she can move us forward. Thanks very much.
O`DONNELL: Bill, it was great to watch. You can watch the debate by going
to our Web site, lastword.MSNBC.com. or Bill`s Web site. You must watch
And Bill again, I just applaud the way you handled it, especially in the
way I think you very effectively communicated with people who do not agree
Bill, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
NYE: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, as viewers of this program know, there`s good
socialism and very bad socialism. And this was a week of bad socialism
from the Super Bowl to the farm bill. That`s next in "the rewrite."
O`DONNELL: Any week that begins with the Super Bowl is a good week for
sports socialism. Sports socialism is far the most popular, the most
unifying socialism in America. And it`s our very worst socialism. The
biggest revelers in and beneficiaries of sports socialism have no idea that
it is socialism because, you know, they couldn`t study every word in those
economics textbook when they were studying their playbooks in college.
Hall of fame quarterback in Denver Bronco`s executive John Elway, who has
been financially supported by the safety net of sports socialism his entire
working life said this on FOX News on super Sunday when explaining why he`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN ELWAY, QUARTERBACK, DENVER BRONCOS: I don`t believe in safety nets.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Of course, no one employed by FOX News actually knows what
socialism is, so John Elway never got a follow-up question about living a
life in the tax provided safety net that protects sports from the harsh
realities of a capitalist economy.
John Elway`s work place, the professional football stadiums in America have
almost all been paid for with taxpayer money. Taxpayer dollars are taken
directly from school teachers` incomes and transferred to the incomes of
people like this.
Richie Incognito is paid $4 million a year to play football and to play
ugly games in the locker room. And his salary is supported by taxpayer
dollars in a pure socialistic transfer from taxpayers who all professional
Every professional football player plays some or most. And in some cases
all of their games in taxpayer-financed stadiums. And the National
Football League has secured itself an exemption from federal income taxes.
That`s right. The NFL operates tax free because, you know, it`s a charity.
No one is in it for the money. And because the billionaire team owners
don`t have to pay real money for their stadiums and don`t have the IRS
looking over their books, they have much more money left over to pay their
In a harsh capitalistic system with no taxpayer support, Tom Brady`s salary
would go from his taxpayer subsidized $31 million a year to what? Maybe
$20 million? $15 million? I don`t know. He would still be very, very
rich but not as Rich. And a lot of schoolteachers and police officers and
firefighters in America would be a little bit richer.
The economic lie that professional sports franchises economically benefit
surrounding communities has been proven false time and time again by the
serious economists who have studied it. And still Republican and
Democratic politicians compete to come up with more lavish giveaways to
professional sports teams.
The this special treatment of the millionaires and billionaires of
professional sports is a moral blight on American politics and government.
That the super bowl would come on the same week that the Senate would pass
its most popular bad socialism bill is just a happy coincidence for the
bipartisan lovers of bad socialism.
The farm bill is being hailed by some as a triumph for reasonable
bipartisanship in Congress. Today, 68 senators voted for agriculture
socialism, the noisiest public debate about the farm bill actually centered
on the good socialism in the bill which is the food stamp program.
The farm bill has always this dense combination of one of America`s best
socialistic ideas, food stamps, with one of America`s most wasteful
socialistic ideas, agricultural subsidies. The only question from the
start was how much would the good socialism be cut? How much would food
stamps be cut. That question was important enough to drown out any other
question about the farm bill, which is pure agricultural socialism. Some
of the most conservative members of the government including Mitch
McConnell voted for government subsidized insurance.
Sounds familiar? Every one of those Republicans who voted for government
subsidized insurance today has railed against government subsidized
insurance in another marketplace. They proved today that they are not
opposed to government subsidized insurance in principle. They are simply
opposed to government subsidized health insurance. And they are completely
in favor of government subsidized insurance for agribusiness, giant
agribusiness, and the government subsidies insurance, they are in favor of
is insurance against the cruelties of capitalism. They believe that
farmers should have insurance against economic reality. And they don`t
believe anyone else in our economy should.
The secretary of agriculture said today that the bill would allow
agribusiness quote to invest confidently in the future. That sounds nice,
doesn`t it? But why should anyone have a government guarantee that they
can invest confidently. Can you invest confidently? Why should everyone
else`s investment be subject to risk but not farmers? Because their
profits are weather dependent? And that`s just too much uncertainty to
allow? Then what about ski area operators? So it`s because farmers
provide food? Then why aren`t commercial fishermen guaranteed by the
government that they can invest confidently in the future?
The government provides fishermen no such guarantee and they go bankrupt
all the time. President Obama echoed this idea today saying this bill
would provide, quote "certainty," his word, certainty, for farmers and
Why only farmers and ranchers? And again, why should any business be
provided certainty in its operations and profits by the government? That
is bad socialism. And like sports socialism, agriculture socialism is
popular and unifying, especially in Washington. It is the only kind of
socialism that could unite Barbara Boxer, who along with Dianne Feinstein
represents more farmers and more food stamp recipient than anyone else in
the Senate with Mitch McConnell. It is the only kind of socialism that
could unite liberal socialist Bernie Sanders with Republican agricultural
socialist David Vitter. It`s the only socialism that could win a
bipartisan vote of more than 2/3 of the Senate. The kind of bipartisan
vote that the establishment political analysts and columnists always
But bipartisanship in and of itself has never been a good thing. Only
bipartisanship used to do good things is a good thing. And very expensive
bad socialism is not a good thing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the biggest controversies surrounding the game
is the Russian government`s intolerance of homosexuality. Last month, the
mayor of Sochi even said there were no gay people in his town. Now, I
personally, I find it odd that there`s so much homophobia there, especially
when you learn the names that Russians have for the Olympic events.
For example, in Russia, ski jumping is known as spreading your legs and
bending forward for glory. Hockey, roughly translates to guys grabbing
your sticks and pocking for 20-some-odd minutes without a time-out. The
term for the women`s slalom is cruising mound and avoiding the poles. And
finally, men`s figure skating is known as men`s figure skating.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: Good afternoon, everyone.
The CBO report is certainly not pretty. If you`re interested in creating
jobs in America. As we all know, they estimate up to two million fewer
jobs will be created as a result of Obamacare.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That statement you just heard from Mitch McConnell is, how to
put it, not true. Yes, the congressional budget office did release a new
report today on its ten-year budget and economic outlook and yes, it did
include a section on the affordable care act. And yes, CBO offer a
projection about the health care law and employment which included the
number, two million. But CBO did not say two million fewer jobs will be
created as a result of Obamacare.
CBO said this. CBO projects a decline in the number of full-time
equivalent workers of about two million in 2017. The estimated reduction
stem almost entirely from a net decline in the amount of labor that workers
choose to supply, rather than from a net drop in business demand for labor.
So it will appear almost entirely as a reduction in labor force
participation rather than as an increase in unemployment; that is more
workers seeking but not finding jobs.
Joining me now is Ezra Klein, MSNBC policy analyst who is building a new
news site at Voxmedia.
Ezra, there was a bit of hysteria today about, oh, my God, affordable care
act kills two million jobs.
O`DONNELL: And it`s just -- it`s those big words in the CBO report. You
know, that`s just not fair for politicians, giving them big words to deal
EZRA KLEIN, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: I think that`s right. But it
is also, this is, I think, is one of the truly interesting findings about
the affordable care act. And it is true for a bunch of other policies.
So, what CBO is saying here is that the affordable care act is going to
make it such that a lot of people right now who are working very, very long
hours or a job they don`t want, because it is the only way they or their
family can get healthcare will be able to cut back those hours or they`ll
be able to not take that job.
So, if you imagine a family where the man would like to be a stay -at-home
father but can`t because the job gives him health care. They have enough
money but otherwise they need the health care. He can cut back to part
time and be a stay at home dad.
Now, I think in any normal world, we would say that is great. People have
the freedom to choose a path that is best for them in their family. The
argument being here is that we should force people to keep working longer
hours through a kind of deprivation, right? It would be similar -- the
reverse in this finding, right, would be to say, we`re going to implement a
policy, the implication being we`re going to implement a policy, we take
$10,000 out of the bank account of every American. Now they can`t feed
their families anymore, they work longer hours. And that`s -- if you think
that would be great for the country, then you would be very worried about
this report for healthcare.
O`DONNELL: That actually is the Republican policy as expressed in repeal
the affordable care act.
KLEIN: And also to end unemployment benefits, right.
O`DONNELL: Well, does the White House dealt with this today. They brought
out Jason Furman, the chairman of the council of Economics, and he talked
about how this could involve people who are carrying two jobs in order to -
- well, let`s just -- we`ll have him explain it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JASON FURMAN, CHAIRMAN, COUNCIL OF ECONOMICS: Just a small picky thing.
It doesn`t say losing jobs. It says FTE`s. So to some degree, this might
be somebody who used to work 60 hours because they needed health insurance
and that was the only job that offered it, and now they can get a different
job at 35 hours that doesn`t offer health insurance, but they`re getting it
through this. Maybe a spouse who wanted to be part time, so they could
spend more time with their family. Now is able to do that.
Is somebody else who wanted to start a business and become an entrepreneur
and was terrified of doing it because they would lose their health
insurance is now able to do that, too. And switch and take a chance on
creating jobs and growing the overall economy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: I know so many examples, personally, that fit into that.
Holding on to this job just for the health insurance.
KLEIN: This is a huge issue. And it`s a huge reason that it is hard to
start a business often times in America. If your kid needs braces and
you`re in a corporate job with great dental, you can`t go out on the
individual market and just hope that your family is going to be fine.
But I do want to back up quickly and say one broad thing. If you`re a
politician who has had the opportunity in recent years to vote for bill
after bill after bill, congressional budget office says it would create
jobs directly from the exact people who need them by investing in
infrastructure, by cutting taxes for businesses that hire new workers or
that hire unemployed worker, by giving money to state and local governments
who have cut massive number of jobs and you have said no to every single
But your job strategy is repeal the healthcare bill because that way,
people who desperately, who already have jobs and would like to work fewer
hours won`t be able to cut back hours. That is a genuinely perverse of
hurts to job creation. It does not -- it creates a problem from people who
already have jobs and does not solve a problem for people who don`t have
them. And it is strange to watch folks who have lot of opportunities to
create jobs get upset over this.
O`DONNELL: Ezra Klein gets tonight`s Last Word.
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>